I, State Your Name

I’m always delighted to hear about explicit directives designed to help certain groups get their message across. It’s like finding secret orders left in a desk drawer: fun to read, not too far removed from what we English teachers do in the classroom, and a hell of a good way to sharpen one’s critical thinking skills.

This one comes courtesy of Wonkette, by way of an article in the NYT called “A Federal Budget Crisis Months in the Planning.” According to the Times,

Shortly after President Obama started his second term, a loose-knit coalition of conservative activists led by former Attorney General Edwin Meese III gathered in the capital to plot strategy. Their push to repeal Mr. Obama’s health care law was going nowhere, and they desperately needed a new plan.

Out of that session, held one morning in a location the members insist on keeping secret, came a little-noticed “blueprint to defunding Obamacare,” signed by Mr. Meese and leaders of more than three dozen conservative groups.

Of course, I downloaded the original document, which is titled, “Defunding Obamacare Toolkit for Activists,” and it’s a treasure trove of manipulation and irrationality. Plus, it doesn’t make me feel any better about the abilities of the average Tea Partier.

Here’s a section on that exotic animal called the “Letter to the Editor”:

How to Write a Letter to the Editor

What is a Letter to the Editor?

A letter to the editor is a letter written to the Editor of a newspaper. 1

Here’s part of  “Suggested Responses to Congressional Offices & Members of the Press about Defunding Obamacare”:

1. CONGRESSIONAL STAFF REPLY: “Even if you ‘shut down the government’ Obamacare still has mandatory spending so you cannot stop funding it.”

> Let’s be clear, we are calling to fund the entire government except for 2 the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and nothing more extreme than that as you are falsely implying. Do not put words in my mouth. 3

This is from “Possible Responses to Questions from Members of the Media about Defunding Obamacare”:

1. What happens when you shut down the government and you are blamed for it?

>We are simply calling to fund the entire government except for 4 the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare…

2. What about the uninsured who will get their care from the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare?

> Health insurance does not equal health care. There are several studies that show that patients on Medicaid have no noticeably improved health outcome over people who completely lack health insurance. After studying 800,000 patients, the study’s authors at the University of Virginia concluded that patients on Medicaid (a program that Obamacare greatly expands) are just as likely, and sometimes more likely, to die than patients without any health insurance coverage. 5

And, finally:

[INSERT YOUR NAME]
[INSERT YOUR ADDRESS]
Senator [FULL NAME]
[ADDRESS]
_______________________
_______________________
[INSERT DATE]

Dear Senator…

Why does that last strategy always remind me of this?


1. Ok, students, never define something by using the same words in the phrase you’re trying to define.

2. If you make an exception, it’s not the “entire” thing, is it? It’s kind of a binary system.

3. Only the committee that drafted this document can do that.

4. See #2.

5. This logic seems irrefutable. Although I do have a beef with the part about some people being “more likely” to die than others.

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